DIY Shampoo Fail (And Why We Don’t Make a Shampoo Bar)

Since we made the commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from our life, we’ve been experimenting with a lot of new products, some good, some bad. Today, I’m going to tell you about the really bad. I mean REALLY bad; my hair still looked wet 24 hours after showering and my husband kept calling me “greaseball”. From what I’ve read, there is a transition period when switching from a chemical-laden commercial shampoo to a natural shampoo, but for me, the transition period lasted for a month and a half AKA it didn’t end.

We’re often asked whether our goat’s milk soap can be used as a shampoo, and we usually say yes, but not for the long term. (I’ve tried it, and I wasn’t pleased with the results.) Soaps, and many of the shampoo bars on the market, have an alkaline pH, which makes them a poor choice for maintaining healthy hair. If I’ve learned one thing from all of my research on natural shampoo, it’s that it’s all about pH. Hair is happiest and healthiest when its pH is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5. This acidity helps to protect the scalp from fungi and bacteria growth. Using an alkaline shampoo will disrupt the pH balance of the scalp. Some people claim that this doesn’t matter, as long as you rinse with something acidic, such as apple cider vinegar, but I did not find this to help much.

I knew I wanted a pH balanced natural shampoo, so I scoured the internet for a recipe that I could make with the ingredients I already had at home. I found one that used coconut milk, castor oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils. What was odd about this recipe was that it wasn’t stable at room temperature, which makes sense, since the coconut milk and the honey would require the use of an artificial preservative. Following the recipe, I made shampoo cubes that I stored in the freezer. I thawed one cube every other shower, and kept the thawed shampoo in a Mason jar in the refrigerator when I wasn’t using it. The shampoo had a pleasant smell and a creamy consistency, but it didn’t seem to lather well (which can be normal for natural shampoos). I knew before I began using this recipe that the first few days (or even weeks) would be rough as my scalp adjusted to produce less oil. What I didn’t know is that my hair would turn into a sad, greasy mess for the entire month and I half that I stuck with this recipe, or that it would become progressively more greasy. IT WAS BAD. 

I’m a firm believer in learning from our mistakes, and what I learned is that pH balanced hair care products are best left to the professionals! This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my quest to find a sustainable alternative to buying shampoo in plastic bottles. I’ve found a few companies that sell natural shampoo in recyclable aluminum bottles (and will even provide shipping labels to return the empty bottles to be reused). I am currently testing a product called Beauty Kubes, which are basically dehydrated cubes of shampoo and conditioner that are crumbled and rehydrated in the shower. I haven’t been using them for long enough to draw any conclusions as to whether they work or not, but I will be sure to share the results (good, bad, or ugly) here on the blog!

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